Sunday, March 11, 2012

A call for productivity

School started again a few weeks ago and already the end of the semester is looming over me, when I will have to turn in the most important paper of the year. That I will then have to present in front of a jury. It's called a mémoire, I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but it's essentially a mini-thesis. Around 40-50 pages, it includes a translation of around 20 pages/30,000 characters. (They use characters in France--basically, the number of letters--which easily fixes students' clever "tricks" of double spacing, increasing letting, etc. Suffice to say, I would have failed out of my undergrad degree had I not used this to my advantage in the US.) In addition to the translation, also required: 30,000 characters of commentary, in French. This is the hardest part. Not so much that it's in French, although, naturally this is a concern. However, the bigger problem is the content. Knowing how to say things eloquently, with right terminology. Like any subject, translation has all kinds of its own jargon. I read grammar books like novels, but these are terms that go beyond the normal scope of grammar jargon. I have to look for, note, commentate different methods of rendering the translation from French to English, because as I'm sure you know, it's not just about replacing words. It's a whole game of transferring meaning, which can be represented in different example I like is the change of how English speakers see things versus French ones. So, where we would say lost property (ok, in AmE, lost and found, but follow my example..), the French would say objets trouvés (found objects). Where we see it as already lost, the French see it as found. Another few that I was just reminded of on my translation workshop on Friday :
The car does 15 miles to the gallon/ La voiture consomme 20 litres aux cent (The car consumes 20 litres to a hundred)
keyhole/la trou de serrure (the lock hole)
there's a smell in the air/ a smell hangs in the air/ l'odeur flotte dans l'air (the smell floats in the air)

Anyway, I love learning about these sorts of things, but when it comes to being a diligent student and writing long-winded graduate-level papers about them..oy. I am le lazy.  It's just that I have trouble doing things in advance when there's weeks and months ahead of me..I seem to only be productive under pressure, but I know that this paper is essential! imperative! to me getting into year two of my program, and I'd really like to do well. Or at least I need to have done my best so I won't beat myself up over it if I don't get in. I must be better or I'll find my ass kicked out of the country!

Which reminds me..I got my visa renewed!
Excuse the profanity, which I try to avoid in writing..but we're dealing with French bureaucracy, man. Definitely merited. I'm not throwing a "legal again!" party until I have said visa in hand. I can't pick it up until APRIL! Argh...akdjfaesdjfkajesrhweoifwtffrancelwkejlrkwje

This semester is much more hands-on. More workshops, less theory, fewer classes in English! I am continuing my German class but am losing hope in German.. I know I'll never be fluent unless I live in a German-speaking country, and it makes me frustrated because I'm really on the cusp between intermediate and advanced; I just need more time and concentration to really do something about it.

Alright well plenty, and I mean PLENTY of translations await me. And then work. And then sleep. And then work. And then school. And then translations. And then sleep. And then school. And then work. And then translations and work and school work translations work school translations social life...

1 comment:

  1. congratulations on getting your visa renewed. I've heard real horror stories about it recently (so glad I got French citizenship as soon as I could!) And also on your mémoire. When I did mine, I found it to be such a stressful situation because the french system is so rigid. But I got through it and I'm sure you will to :)